ST. JOHNS (WWJ/AP) – An assistant professor at Michigan State University’s veterinary school is charged with animal neglect after authorities reported finding 17 dogs and two cats in poor condition at her home.

Patricia Schenck, 55, was charged with a felony last month in Clinton County District Court. A preliminary hearing to determine whether there’s enough evidence for trial is planned for Thursday. Schenck faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Schenck’s lawyer Mick Grewal said negotiations with prosecutors were ongoing.

“I’m trying to do something that’s beneficial for my client, as well as the animals,” Grewal told The Lansing State Journal.

Officials say the animals were found Dec. 12 at the home north of Lansing in Olive Township, where Schenck lives with her elderly parents. Police said they went to the house after getting a 911 call from someone who hung up.

Schenck was arraigned Dec. 20 and was released after posting bond. She has been ordered not to have any animals in her possession, records show. Most of the animals were taken to local shelters for care, and Grewal said one dog was euthanized.

Schenck is suspended with pay from the College of Veterinary Medicine pending the case’s outcome, university spokesman Kent Cassella said in a statement.

“In her role at the college, Schenck did not treat animals nor do the charges against her pertain to her work with the college,” Cassella said.

Schenck, who in 2010 published a book titled “Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets, Second Edition,” is listed as an assistant professor who specializes in endocrinology. She has been affiliated with the college since 2001.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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